With that introduction, we arrive at what John identifies as Jesus’ first miracle: his changing of water into wine at somebody’s wedding, having been talked into it by his mom. John writes, “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11 NRSV).
I can understand why, having witnessed this miracle, Jesus’ disciples “believed in him.” What I can’t figure out, though, is what it was—if not miracles—that caused the disciples to drop everything and follow Jesus in the first place.
I mean, he was just some guy from around where they lived. Not rich or well-connected, without even, if Isaiah’s prophecy was correct, “beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2 NIV).
I’m guessing the rest of Isaiah’s prophecy—that the Messiah would be “despised and rejected…and…held…in low esteem”—evidences Jesus’ later treatment by those around him, his torture and execution, not the attitude of those he encountered. He seems to have had, in any case, some sort of attraction for those who left home and family to follow him. Some charisma—a Greek word that originally meant favor or divine gift—that not only drew others to him but convinced them, right from the start, without any miracles, that, as Philip tells his friend Nathanael, they had “found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45 NIV).
That said, John himself records, and thereby discounts, a pretty amazing miracle that predated the wedding at
If seeing what happened without being present to see it is not a miracle, I don’t know what is. Nathanael’s response, in any case, suggests that he thought Jesus’ divine gifts as a seer miraculous: “Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of
And Jesus’ own account of Nathanael’s instantaneous conversion also references that miracle—“You believe,” he tells him, “because I told you I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:49)—and he promises even “greater things than that” (John 1:50 NIV). Not just magic tricks like fortunetelling or changing water into wine or walking on the surface of a lake but the very miracles people wish for: miraculous healings of their loved ones and bringing dead people back to life.
Very truly I tell you,” Jesus tells Nathanael, tells us—just like Jacob at Beersheba, we’ll see “‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man” (John 1:51 NIV).